Denmark Driving Guide

Denmark is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-11-22 · 15 min

Denmark invariably comes to mind when talking about the Nordic countries in Northern Europe. It is a must-visit destination because of its fjords, landscapes, and vast plains.

The country is also known for its cycling-friendly routes, castles, and modern architecture. However, many of the country's hidden gems often go overlooked.

Most travelers only visit Copenhagen, and that’s a shame because there are SO many beautiful places in Denmark.

Like Funen, which is the most romantic mini destination you’ve never heard of, or North Jutland which is blessed with enchanted forests and a watery and rugged beauty.

With your own car, you can cover the entire country (minus the small islands) in less than a week. Here’s everything you need to know!

Miriam, a Danish traveler, shares this in her blog post, Denmark Road Trip: 6 Amazing Self-Drive Itineraries on her website.

Go Beyond Copenhagen

We've created this guide to inspire you to discover Denmark's picturesque byways and lesser-known treasures. Armed with the right information and thorough preparation, your driving experience in Denmark can become a standout aspect of your Scandinavian adventure.

Let's Take a Closer Look at Denmark

Before diving deeper into the Danish driving culture, here's an overview of Denmark's geography, languages, and other relevant information

Geographical Location

Denmark, a sovereign state in Northern Europe, uniquely combines the Jutland Peninsula with an archipelago of 440 splendid islands. The country boasts an extensive coastline of over 7,000 kilometers, ideal for harbors and fishing activities.

Denmark shares a 68-kilometer southern border with Germany and maritime boundaries with Sweden, Norway, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Its capital, Copenhagen, is a significant cultural and political center in Scandinavia.

Languages Spoken

Danish is the sole official language of Denmark, with minority languages in regions like the Faroe Islands and Greenland. English is widely spoken across the country, making communication with locals convenient for visitors. However, learning basic Danish phrases can enrich your interactions and is often appreciated by the locals.

History

Denmark's history is notably marked by the Viking Age, starting around 793 A.D. This era saw significant advancements in navigation and trade, impacting Northern England and Northwestern France.

Despite periods of colonization, Denmark achieved independence on May 5, 1945, with support from the Grand Alliance of the UK, the US, and the Soviet Union, allowing it to rebuild its economy post-World War II.

Government

Denmark operates under a parliamentary democracy system known as "The Folketing." This multi-party governance model requires parties to form coalitions to establish a functioning government.

The Prime Minister typically emerges from the leading party, while the Danish Royalty, particularly the Queen, serves a ceremonial role in the government.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

For foreign nationals seeking a road adventure in Denmark, obtaining an IDP is crucial. It ensures legal compliance and facilitates understanding of driver information by local authorities.

While an IDP does not replace your native driver’s license, it acts as an official translation and should always be carried along with your original license.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Denmark?

Visitors to Denmark can use their native driver’s licenses under certain conditions. These include licenses in English or Danish, residency status in Denmark, or licenses issued by EU states, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway.

For those who don't meet these criteria, obtaining an IDP is recommended, which can be done through the International Driver’s Association website.

Is Driving with a U.S. License Allowed in Denmark?

American drivers with valid U.S. licenses can drive in Denmark for up to 90 days without an IDP. However, acquiring an IDP is advisable, as many car rental agencies require it.

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in the Cities and Districts of Denmark?

An IDP is recommended for all foreign nationals driving in Denmark, especially those with licenses not in English or Danish. This is vital for navigating city checkpoints and rural areas. UK license holders should also carry additional documents from the DVLA.

Does an IDP Replace a Native Driver’s License?

An IDP should accompany your native driver’s license, as it is merely a translation and not a replacement. Its possession ensures legal driving in Denmark, especially for those not exempted from needing one.

Car Rentals in Denmark

Exploring the landscapes of Denmark becomes an adventure when you opt for a car rental. This mode of travel grants you complete control over your itinerary, making time a non-issue in planning your journey.

Choosing A Car Rental Company

When planning your road trip, researching affordable car rental options is crucial. Car rental services are available not just in Copenhagen and other major cities but also in suburban areas. Online browsing is an efficient way to start.

Here are some well-known car rental brands in Denmark to consider:

  • Budget
  • Europcar
  • Sixt Car Rental
  • Alamo
  • Enterprise
  • Avis
  • Thrifty

Ensure the website's security before booking online to avoid scams. Alternatively, you can book directly at the airport.

Required Documents

For car rental abroad, the following documents are generally needed:

  • International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
  • Original local driver's license
  • Valid passport
  • Credit or debit card

Keep your rental provider’s contact information handy for emergencies on the road

Types of Rental Vehicles

Choose a vehicle that suits your group size and the driver's comfort and skill level. Available vehicle types for online booking include:

  • Economy
  • Compact
  • Intermediate
  • SUV
  • Minivan
  • Premium
  • Passenger Van
  • Luxury
  • Convertible
  • Supplier Choice

Car Rental Costs

Car rental prices can vary, often based on vehicle maintenance costs and demand. Rates in Denmark can start as low as $13/day but expect variations based on the season and car type.

  • Economy - $13/day
  • Compact - $14/day
  • Convertible - $16/day
  • Supplier Choice - $22/day
  • Intermediate - $21/day
  • Luxury - $34/day
  • Minivan - $39/day
  • Premium - $38/day
  • Passenger Van - $47/day
  • SUV - $116/day

Age Requirements

While the legal driving age in Denmark is 17, you must be at least 20 to rent a car. Additional charges may apply depending on the driver’s age.

Car Insurance Cost

Insurance is typically offered separately by rental agencies and can be costly. Check with your credit card company or existing car insurance provider for potential coverage on international rentals.

Car Insurance Policy

In Denmark, drivers typically choose between two main types of car insurance: Liability and Comprehensive.

  • Liability Insurance: This is a compulsory insurance policy for those driving a rental car. It covers fundamental damages and medical costs resulting from an accident. While it has certain limitations, it offers foreign drivers some financial protection against substantial expenses.
  • Comprehensive Insurance: This optional policy tends to be more costly than Liability Insurance. It provides broader coverage, including the maximum damage costs to the vehicle and medical expenses.

Carefully consider your insurance needs and ensure your chosen policy protects against accidents. Thoroughly review the policy details and legal terms before committing. Additionally, always carry your car insurance certificate, especially when passing through checkpoints, as law enforcement officers may request it.

Understanding Danish Road Rules

Before starting your road trip, familiarize yourself with local road rules and regulations. Compliance is key to ensuring the safety of your passengers and other road users.

Key Driving Regulations in Denmark

The following are some of the most crucial driving regulations you must remember when driving in Denmark:

  • Drunk Driving: The legal alcohol limit is 50 mg. Avoid drinking if you plan to drive, as penalties for drunk driving are severe.
  • Health and Alertness: Ensure you are well-rested and alert before driving. Regularly check your vehicle’s condition and carry the necessary equipment, including a car seat for children.
  • Mobile Phone Usage: Avoid distractions from mobile phones. Use a hands-free system for urgent calls.
  • Parking: Familiarize yourself with local parking regulations and permanently secure your vehicle, leaving no valuables inside.

Speed Limits

Adhering to Denmark's speed limits is a fundamental aspect of safe driving. Note the following speed limits to avoid penalties:

  • City: 50 km/h
  • Major/Open roads: 80 km/h
  • Highway: 110 km/h to 130 km/h

Seatbelt Laws

Strict enforcement of seatbelt laws in Denmark mandates the use of seat belts for all passengers. Children under six must be in a car seat. Violations can lead to hefty fines

Driving Directions

Exploring Denmark by car allows you the freedom to enjoy scenic landscapes, take breaks, and experience local culture. Familiarize yourself with the roundabouts and overtaking rules, and always carry your IDP, especially when crossing international borders.

Traffic Road Signs

Danish road signs adhere to international standards, with some unique signs. Familiarize yourself with different types, including warning signs, information, mandatory, priority, prohibitory signs, and parking regulations.

Right of Way

In Denmark, driving is on the right side, with passing on the left. Buses generally have the right of way, and white triangular lines indicate yield points.

The minimum age for a full driving license in Denmark is 17. Aspiring drivers can join driving schools a few months before reaching this age.

Overtaking Laws

Overtaking should be done with caution and only when necessary. Avoid overtaking on the right side and always signal your intentions.

Driving Side

Drive on the right side of the road, using the left lane for passing. Adhering to this rule is essential to avoid confrontations with law enforcement.

Driving Etiquette in Denmark

Demonstrating courtesy and respect on the road is crucial. Understanding and practicing local driving etiquette is key to being a responsible and respected driver in Denmark.

Car Breakdown

When planning a road trip, destinations, accommodations, activities, and sightseeing spots often top the list. However, preparing for emergencies, such as a potential car breakdown is equally important. Including these considerations in your travel plan can make your journey smoother and safer

Tips for Handling Car Breakdowns

1. Prioritize Safety: If your car starts to fail, gently steer it to the roadside. Ensure
passenger safety by not leaving them stranded on the road for long. Turn on hazard
lights immediately if you can't find a safe spot.

2. Use Safety Gear: Once safely parked, wear a reflective jacket and set up warning
triangles about 50 yards behind your car to alert other drivers.

3. Keep Passengers Inside: Only the driver and one adult should exit the vehicle,
especially on busy roads. Children and elderly passengers should stay inside for
safety.

4. Contact Rental Agency: If the car issue is complex, contact your rental agency for
assistance. Ensure you have their contact information and an International Driving
Permit (IDP) for hassle-free travel in Denmark.

5. Local Assistance: In remote areas, seek help from locals or traffic officers. Learning
basic Danish phrases can help in communicating well with them.

Police Stops

Expect police stops when crossing borders into Denmark. Comply with the protocols, and be prepared to show travel documents like your passport, IDP, and driver’s license. Respond honestly to officers' questions and cooperate fully.

Asking for Directions

Most Danes speak English, but knowing basic Danish phrases can facilitate interactions with locals. Familiarize yourself with phrases like "hello" (hej), "excuse me" (undskyld), and "do you speak English?" (Taler du engelsk?).

  • Hello - hej
  • Excuse me! - undskyld
  • Do you speak English? - Taler du engelsk?
  • Excuse me, are you from here? - Undskyld, er du herfra?
  • Could you help me? - Kan du hjaelpe mig?
  • Thank You - tak
  • How much is the toll road? - Hvad koster betalingsvejen?
  • Is there a parking garage near here? - Er der et parkeringshus i nĂŠrheden?
  • Airport - lufthavn
  • Embassy - Ambassade
  • Hotel - hotel

Checkpoints

At checkpoints, you'll need to present the following documents especially when requested:

  • Valid Passport (with visa if applicable)
  • Copy of confirmed itinerary
  • International Driver’s Permit (IDP)
  • Original Driver’s License

What to Do After a Road Accident

In a road accident, the best action is to contact the police or emergency medical services immediately. Reaching out to these authorities ensures that the situation is handled professionally and efficiently.

It's crucial not to attempt personal intervention unless trained in emergency response. Wait patiently for medical personnel to arrive and administer first aid to injured parties. Once help arrives, cooperate fully and provide truthful information as requested.

Driving in Denmark: What to Expect

When driving in Denmark, be prepared for road conditions that might differ from those in the United States. Pay attention to other road users, including cyclists who often share the road with motor vehicles.

Danish expressways, highways, and secondary roads are well-maintained and provide smooth connections to neighboring countries like Germany.

Be aware of rush hour times in major cities like Copenhagen, typically between 7:00-8:30 AM and 3:00-5:30 PM, and note the specific bicycle restrictions during these periods.

Watch out for bicyclists
If you do choose to drive in the city, be very careful about right turns.

Several Danish bicyclists are killed every year because a car or truck took a right turn and the bicyclist (who may be drunk, grooving out to music on his earbuds, or simply not paying attention) continued going straight.

There is no legal right turn on red in Denmark, and even on green, the bicyclist has the right of way.

Kay Xander Mellish, a Denmark resident for more than a decade, shares this helpful fact on her website, How to Live in Denmark.

Accident Statistics

From 2009 to 2019, traffic fatalities in Denmark peaked in 2009 with 303 deaths, but there has been a decrease in recent years, with 154 deaths recorded in 2022. Despite these statistics, Denmark remains a safe driving destination, generally adhering to traffic laws and regulations

In Denmark, compact cars are popular with tourists and locals, offering convenience for smaller families or groups. When planning a road trip, consider using toll roads to avoid congestion.

These roads typically require a fee, so be prepared with the correct amount for a smoother journey. If you plan a more extended trip, crossing into other countries by land might be an appealing option.

Typical Routes

Travelers going from Stockholm to Copenhagen should anticipate a considerable amount of driving time. The route involves taking the E4 motorway, which spans an extensive 555 kilometers from Stockholm to Helsingborg.

After reaching Helsingborg, a brief drive towards Malmö and across the Oresund Bridge typically takes about an hour. The most efficient route for those starting their journey in Amsterdam is via the A1 road. It's important to remember that this path involves a ferry crossing and passing through the German border.

Road Situations

Danish roads are in excellent condition, though rush hour traffic can cause some congestion. Keep an eye out for cyclists and adhere to the well-marked traffic signs. Driving in Denmark is a great experience, as the Danish are known for their adherence to traffic rules. If you're not confident driving, consider hiring a local driver.

Additional Driving Tip

Understanding additional aspects of Danish driving is beneficial. For instance, Denmark uses kilometers per hour (Kph) as its speed measurement, and exceeding speed limits can result in fines. Familiarizing yourself with these details can enhance your driving experience in Denmark.

Top Destinations in Denmark

Denmark's landscape is dotted with fortresses, castles, and other breathtaking sights. To fully immerse yourself in Denmark's regal beauty, have your driver's license, International Driver’s Permit, and passport ready.

Trelleborg

Situated on the charming island of Zealand, a visit to Trelleborg transports you back to 980 AD. As Denmark's most well-preserved Viking ring fortress, it is a testament to the history of these seafaring warriors.

The fortress is renowned for its four tunnel-like gates and the remnants of original wooden buildings within the ring. The site comes alive with staff dressed in period costumes, reenacting Viking life.

Best visited between July and August, Trelleborg is closed on Mondays from September to June and can be pretty crowded on Christmas and New Year's Day.

Egeskov Slot

This expansive manor in southern Funen is more than just a historical building. Egeskov Slot boasts gardens and museums showcasing vintage cars, motorcycles, horse-drawn carriages, and a wartime grocery shop, making it a diverse attraction for all ages.

When planning a visit, check the website for opening hours. Accessible from April to October, the manor also hosts events like the Heartland Festival and Egeskov Christmas Market. Admission fees are charged for both adults and children.

Vikingemuseet Ladby

Home to Denmark's only Viking ship grave, Vikingemuseet Ladby on the Hindsholm Peninsula is a unique historical site. It's the only place in the world where a Viking ship remains in its original burial spot.

Though the ship has perished, its outline and artifacts like rivets and chains are visible. The museum is open year-round, except for Mondays, and it's advisable to plan your visit to avoid unexpected crowd

Explore Denmark at Your Own Pace

Thinking of visiting the historic streets of Copenhagen to the beaches of the North Sea? Consider the freedom that comes with driving. Apply for your International Driving Permit, rent a car, and set off on a journey across the picturesque cities and countryside of Denmark!

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